Food Fest continues giving back

Michael Tortorich
Kerri Landry of Gonzales samples food at the Gonzales Rotary Club’s annual Food Festival Tuesday night in the Gonzales Civic Center.

Food, folks and fun ruled again at the Gonzales Rotary Club’s Food Fest Tuesday.

The ninth annual event drew a large crowd, just as it has in prior years.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the St. Theresa of Avila Food Pantry, a non-denominational outreach program which serves the needy in the community.

For each canned good donated, Blue Runner matched with a two-for one donation.

“We had a really good turnout,” Rotarian and festival chairman Gary Laiche said. “It went very well. Everyone really came through tonight.”

He estimated almost 500 people attended.

“It gets better every year,” Laiche said.

Nearly 50 vendors served food and drinks. Each year all of the food, along with other necessary items like paper products, are donated.

Several of the vendors have participated in the event for multiple years. They represented businesses and organizations from across Ascension Parish, including Gonzales-based mainstays, Donaldsonville establishments, rural charmers and local fire departments.

Plenty of familiar faces were seen around the tables. One participant was overheard as calling it “a Gonzales reunion.”

Mayor Barney Arceneaux, a Rotarian and food commitee member, was hard at work serving the people – by dishing out Popeye’s biscuits.

Of course the Jambalaya Capital of the World didn’t disappoint. Plenty of the famous rice dish was available thanks to the Jambalaya Festival Association, which was on hand with its familiar faces stirring the pots.

A $20 ticket allowed access to the wide array of vendors.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Ticket buyers get to construct their own unique hearty feast and help a good cause, and vendors get to showcase their menu while giving back to the community as well.

Members of the Rotary Club all band together to volunteer their efforts by planning, setting up and serving. They also receive help from other civic organizations, including the local Knights of Columbus chapters, Boy Scouts from the area and several others who generously donate their time and services.

Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provide humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations and helps build goodwill and peace in the world.

The motto of Rotary is “service above self.” The annual food festival is one of the many ways local members put that motto into action.

Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux serves food along with Sally Diez and Marie Broussard.